Release Date: December 9
Megamind is a cartoon adventure that makes light of the dozens of superhero clichés we’ve absorbed through decades of cartoons and comics. But every time the word ‘destiny’ gets mention, you can be sure the producers are setting viewers up to realise that it’s actually the individual that determines their own fortune.
The producers of Megamind based the plot on the premise: ‘What if Lex Luthor actually beat Superman?” Dreamworks begins with a parody of the origins of the ‘man of steel’, showing an alternate universe where two planets are about to be destroyed and two sets of parents send their children to earth for the greater good. Metro Man arrives in a privileged home and rises to become the chiseled jaw good guy we’ve come to expect. Meantime Megamind’s capsule lands in the Metro City’s Prison for the Gifted and is raised by a collection of criminals.
Lacking Metro Man’s social and physical advantages, Megamind decides his only path to success lies in villainy. As the animators reflect on his school days, he tells the audience, “No matter what happened, I was always the last chosen, the odd one out, the black sheep… the bad boy. Was this my destiny? Maybe it was! Being bad is the one thing I’m good at! Then it hit me: if I was the bad boy, then I was going to be the baddest boy of them all!”
Megamind is basically a ‘nurture vs. nature’ argument dressed up in a 3D cape. Do our circumstances determine who we will be, or do we have it within ourselves to change? The opportunity to find out comes along when Metro Man retires and Megamind meets a villain more evil than himself. No prizes for guessing the qualities Megamind discovers within himself!
Megamind is wholesome fun for the whole family but there’s at least one correction to be made in the follow-up conversations. Don’t forget to ask your children just how successful they’ve been in reforming some small aspect of their lives … like cleaning up after themselves … and ask them how much help they needed to make even their smallest gains. There’s a reason why perfect makeovers belong in the movies.
Iron Man: Armoured Adventures
Release Date: Sundays, 4:55 PM
Having trouble with little boys who have fallen in love with the Ironman franchise, but are too young to watch the rated M productions? You have my sympathy; I have three! That said, there is a cartoon solution that may help you fill keep the peace.
Iron Man: Armoured Adventures reworks the story so that key character Tony Stark is a brilliant young teen when his father dies. His recent invention of the Iron Man suit is the only thing that saves him from a similar fate. Now he uses its extensive capabilities to try and solve the mystery his father was working on up to his demise.
The series has been sanitized for junior viewers so you need not worry about the sort of explosive violence that accompanied the films. Most of the action has been reduced to the level of armoured punch-ups with little or no lasting after-effects.
There is also another benefit to Iron Man: Armoured Adventures that goes beyond safe entertainment – its attitude to family. It is a sad reality that children today suffer from more social fractures than previous generations. Second marriages and single parent households abound. Even the surviving traditional structures have come under increased pressure from long work-hours and less connected suburbs.
The young Tony Stark is as isolated as any kid could be, but he practically re-forms his family around the friends he has chosen. This new unit becomes the place for him to demonstrate all of the love and loyalty we would normally associate with siblings. In so doing he provides a good model for that adage, ‘Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.’ And I think there’s nothing wrong with encouraging our children to expand their ‘families’ this way. After all, Christians belong to a new family primarily because God chose to include them.
Release Date: Wednesdays, 9:30 PM
Fringe is the natural successor to The X Files. So much so, that in a recent episode a key character faced off against a board of senators who complained that the government was tired of funding more operations like the FBI’s ‘X Division’. It was a ‘tip of the hat’ not to be lost on the science fiction fans flocking to this television series.
Fringe centres around FBI agent Olivia Dunham, a female Fox Mulder, who is assigned to work with the brilliant but unstable Dr. Walter Bishop, and his ‘connected’ son Peter to solve a growing storm of paranormal activities. They become aware of what is referred to as ‘the pattern’ – a collection of events that point to other-worldly interference in the Earth’s affairs – and set about solving it before it can cause the destruction of everything.
Fringe is in its third season and continues to works on the fertile territory that lies between weird crimes and their super-scientific solutions. In that respect it is something of a science-fiction version of CSI and so viewers should prepare themselves for the occasional messy dissection of a cadaver.
That said, the unfolding plot line is as confusing but compelling as other grand mystery dramas like Lost. If Fringe contains a letdown, though, it is its dogged determination to discover the scientific explanation behind every event. However weird the plot lines become, the solutions will only suggest solutions that can fit inside a test tube. If Jesus were to walk across the waves in front of these FBI operatives, you can be sure they would be looking for the inter-dimensional rift between the surface of the water and the souls of his feet.